You’re setting yourself to a trap if you think that eight hours seem like more than enough time to finish several tasks at work. This lax perception often leads to none getting done at all, leaving you to feel stressed out in the end. (RELATED: Stress at Work: The Dangers of Work-related Stress)
Even with the internal and external factors that divert you from important tasks, you need to be able to cope and maximize the time you spend at work. Accomplish more with less time by using one of these minute hacks:
There are a lot of tasks that take less than two minutes to finish – that’s David Allen’s idea. In his bestselling book, Getting Things Done, he suggests to workers that “if an action will take less than two minutes, it should be done at the moment it is defined.”
In short, do easier tasks first. The two-minute rule is about deciding instantly whether or not the task at hand can be easily done and just going for it, saving you time to do tasks that require more focus and mental power.
Quoting from the book, “the rationale for the two-minute rule is that that’s more or less the point where it starts taking longer to store and track an item than to deal with it the first time it’s in your hands – in other words, it’s the efficiency cutoff.”
For David Kadavy, author of Design for Hackers and host of Love your Work, it only takes 10 minutes to dive into the work.
For this hack, you must set your timer to 10 minutes and focus on doing one task only. When the 10 minutes are up, you don’t have to stop working. The timer becomes a warm-up to achieving a good work flow until you feel like taking a break.
According to David, the purpose of giving yourself 10 minutes is to get started. “Once you get started, the trail has been carved. The rigidity of hesitation gives way to the fluidity of being in a project. Whatever second guesses that had to be quelled to get started are knocked down by the possibilities introduced by being in motion,” David said.
We’ve all had our fair share of moments wherein no matter how much brain power and effort we put into the assignment, we fall short and get stuck on just one task. Before you know it, your supposedly productive eight hours are down the drain.
The solution? Vincent Vanhoucke, a Principal Scientist at Google, shared his 15-minute rule in a recent AMA Reddit session hosted by him and other Google Brain team members.
“I often tell new team members about the 15-minute rule (I didn’t come up with it): when you’re stuck on something (e.g. getting a script to run), you have to try to solve the problem all by yourself for 15 minutes. But then when the 15 minutes are up, you have to ask for help. Failure to do the former wastes people’s time, failure to ask for help wastes your time,” Vincent shared.
What’s the secret to becoming a productive employee? According to Draugiem Group, you need to take breaks more often.
The social networking company conducted an experiment wherein the top 10% most productive employees were assigned to use DeskTime, a time tracking app that analyzes productivity. Through the experiment, they found out that the productive employees would work non-stop for 52 minutes followed by a 17-minute break.
DeskTime’s article on the experiment suggests that “the break of 17 minutes lets your mind, your attention span, and your body rest so that when the 52 minutes of work begin, you’re entirely ready to knock off the tasks to be done.”
25-minute sessions of work
Sift working with purpose and procrastinating by using the Pomodoro Technique. Developed by Francesco Cirillo in the early 90s, this time management method suggests accomplishing a task in 25-minute chunks with 5-minute breaks in between.
Focusing your full attention on a task for 25 minutes is a reasonable amount of time. It’s not too long to overwork your mind or too short to accomplish anything at all. Breaking down work into short sprints can also help improve your attention span and keep you consistently productive.
Always remember that more hours doesn’t necessarily mean better work. Try incorporating at least one of these hacks in your daily routine at work and see if it makes a difference.